IRI insights on Gen Z shopping suggest marketers need a new approach

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

IRI insights on Gen Z shopping suggest marketers need a new approach
Unlike cost-conscious generations that came before, Generation Z cares more about convenience than price – a dramatic reversal that will change not only how brands and retailers catch their attention but also where and how they shop, according to new findings from consumer research firm IRI.  

Initial findings from IRI’s ongoing study into Generation Z’s approach to shopping reveal that consumers 21 years and younger are two to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than sales or discount pricing.

Specifically, it found 29% of older Gen Zers, who are more likely than their younger counterparts to already be spending their own money and shopping regularly, and 35% of younger members of Generation Z are more likely to notice and want to buy a new product based on what they see or hear about a brand on social media, versus just 15% of older Gen Zers and 9% of younger Gen Zers who said sales and discounts were more likely to inspire them to buy something.

These numbers are inverse from older generations who are far more likely to be influenced by price than by social media. For example, 40% of younger millennials and 50% of older millennials say price is more influential compared to 12% and 4% respectively who list social medial.  For Gen X and Boomers only 4% and 5% respectively are influenced by social media compared to 43% to 50% by price, IRI found.

Gen Z wants to be part of marketing conversation

These findings suggest that brands and retailers hoping to capture the attention of these young shoppers should consider shifting their marketing dollars from promoting sales and discounts to working with brand ambassadors and micro-influencers across social media platforms. In particular, the research suggests they should focus on influencers who are the same age as the target shoppers.

“One of the most interesting and compelling parts of Gen Z’s social media usage is how much they expect to be a part of the brand/retailer conversation. Our work with Gen Z to date suggests that they reject inauthenticity and being ‘marketed to,’ but they are not against marketing and advertising altogether,”​ Lynne Gillis, principle of Survey and Segmentation for IRI, said in a release.

Rather, she added, Gen Zers “embrace the opportunity to be influencers, whether it’s among their own circle of friends or a broader audience.”

While social media’s influence may weigh more than price for now, that is not to say cost is moot to young shoppers.

IRI’s survey found more than 25% of Gen Z members seek discounts and promotions for brands and from retailers on apps, which is only slightly less than the 33% of millennials who do the same.

With convenience a top priority, Gen Z is more open to ecommerce

In addition to buzz on social media, how convenient finding brands or products is in store or online is important to Generation Z, according to IRI. In fact, the survey found 23% of shoppers younger than 21 say how easy it is to find what they want influences where they shop – only slightly less than the 26% who said the same about low product pricing.

As the first digital native generation, teenagers and those barely entering their 20s also hold a different view of ecommerce than their older counterparts.

Most members of Gen Z view brick and mortar and online retailers as equally capable of offering the brands they want, an enjoyable shopping experience, a large product selection, low pricing and that all too important ease of finding what they are looking for, according to the survey.

Their high opinion of online retail likely is symbiotic with their preference for social media and reinforces the idea that marketing across social platforms with links direct to where they can buy something online could be a winning strategy. 

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